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Dutch Oven Cooking

Dutch Oven Shopping Guide

Find the best Dutch oven to suit your needs—and your budget.
By Published Jan. 24, 2017

A heavyweight Dutch oven is a piece of equipment you’ll have for years. We’ve run extensive tests on Dutch ovens in the test kitchen, and our preferences are clear: Look for a heavy enameled cast-iron pot with a tight-fitting lid. Too-narrow pots make browning a chore, so we prefer Dutch ovens that are at least 8 inches wide and can hold 6 quarts or more. Dark-colored interiors made it hard to monitor browning, so we stick to pots with light interiors

We have two favorite Dutch ovens in the test kitchen: the gold standard Le Creuset 7¼-Quart Round French Oven, and the more affordable (but still incredibly reliable) Cuisinart 7 Qt. Round Covered Casserole.

The Le Creuset

This pricey pot is still the one to beat. In our tests, it was the most durable and user-friendly with comfortable handles and lower, straight sides that made it easy to move, load, and unload. Its broad, lightly-colored cooking surface allowed us to cook more food faster and monitor browning. It’s heavy, as a Dutch oven should be, but a bit lighter than some of the others we tested. It’s the best Dutch oven money can buy. [Buy Now on Amazon]

The Cuisinart

This model costs a third of what the Le Creuset Dutch oven does and performs almost as well. With a very similar design—low, straight sides and a broad, off-white cooking surface—it allowed us to easily move food, sear in fewer batches, and monitor browning. The trade-offs: The Cuisinart pot is 3 pounds heavier and has slightly smaller handles than the Le Creuset pot, and its rim chipped during abuse testing. Still, this is a great Dutch oven and well worth your hard earned cash. [Buy Now on Amazon]

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A Lighter Option

Perhaps you prefer a lighter pot, however. Sometimes hauling out a 13-pound Dutch oven for a simple meal can seem excessive. Lacking the enameled surface, lighter stainless-steel models tend to run a little hot, but these pots can still produce a gorgeous fond and will work just as well as an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Our favorite is the All-Clad 8-Quart Stockpot. [Buy Now on Amazon]

An Unexpected Accessory

A good steamer basket will enhance your Dutch oven cooking more than you might expect. Steamer baskets make it possible to pair steamed vegetables with slow-cooking (and saucy) main. The legs of our favorite steamer basket from OXO Good Grips were just high enough to lift spears of asparagus or broccoli florets above a bubbling braise, and the perforated basket allowed escaping steam to cook the vegetables to perfection. Despite a host of new baskets on the market, the classic collapsible stainless steel models still won us over every time. [Buy Now on Amazon]

What kind of Dutch oven do you use at home? Let us know in the comments! And for more information about Dutch oven cooking, read the following posts: